Visions of the days departed, shadowy phantoms filled
They who live in history only seemed to walk the earth again;
All the Foresters of Flanders,—mighty Baldwin
Bras de Fer,
Lyderick du Bucq and Cressy Philip, Guy de Dampierre.
I beheld the pageants splendid that adorned those
days of old;
Stately dames, like queens attended, knights who bore the Fleece of Gold
Lombard and Venetian merchants with deep-laden argosies;
Ministers from twenty nations; more than royal pomp and ease.
I beheld proud Maximilian, kneeling humbly on the
I beheld the gentle Mary, hunting with her hawk and hound;
And her lighted bridal-chamber, where a duke slept
with the queen,
And the armed guard around them, and the sword unsheathed between.
I beheld the Flemish weavers, with Namur and Juliers
Marching homeward from the bloody battle of the Spurs of Gold;
Saw the light at Minnewater, saw the White Hoods moving
Saw great Artevelde victorious scale the Golden Dragon’s nest.
And again the whiskered Spaniard all the land with
And again the wild alarum sounded from the tocsin’s throat;
Till the bell of Ghent responded o’er lagoon
and dike of sand,
“I am Roland! I am Roland! there is victory in the land!”
Then the sound of drums aroused me. The awakened
Chased the phantoms I had summoned back into their graves once more.
Hours had passed away like minutes; and, before I
Lo! the shadow of the belfry crossed the sun-illumined square.
This is the place. Stand still, my steed,
Let me review the scene,
And summon from the shadowy Past
The forms that once have been.
The Past and Present here unite
Beneath Time’s flowing tide,
Like footprints hidden by a brook,
But seen on either side.
Here runs the highway to the town;
There the green lane descends,
Through which I walked to church with thee,
O gentlest of my friends!
The shadow of the linden-trees
Lay moving on the grass;
Between them and the moving boughs,
A shadow, thou didst pass.
Thy dress was like the lilies,
And thy heart as pure as they:
One of God’s holy messengers
Did walk with me that day.
I saw the branches of the trees
Bend down thy touch to meet,
The clover-blossoms in the grass
Rise up to kiss thy feet,
“Sleep, sleep to-day, tormenting cares,
Of earth and folly born!”
Solemnly sang the village choir
On that sweet Sabbath morn.
Through the closed blinds the golden sun
Poured in a dusty beam,
Like the celestial ladder seen
By Jacob in his dream.
And ever and anon, the wind,
Sweet-scented with the hay,
Turned o’er the hymn-book’s fluttering leaves
That on the window lay.